Have you ever been curious about Reiki and what it could offer you? Maybe you’ve been interested in trying it out in the past but weren’t sure what was involved or whether it would be right for you. Perhaps you’ve even dismissed it as being a bit too “out there” for you!
I can relate. Reiki can appear somewhat mysterious to the newcomer and it doesn’t help matters that it is quite a difficult subject to communicate in words. (But we'll give it a try!)
So what is Reiki?
Put simply, Reiki is a Japanese healing technique that promotes balance within our whole system – body, mind and soul. This means that although we may come to the Reiki table looking for relief from some physical ailment or emotional issue, we may find that we start to reap the benefits on many levels and in unexpected ways. Reiki does not discriminate; it just flows through us and helps our bodies to heal themselves in whatever way is best for us at that point in time. For example, I first came to Reiki looking for relief from chronic pain caused by a spinal injury. I am now pain free, but my real healing journey has turned out to be much more profound. (But more on that in later articles.)
You don’t need to “believe” in Reiki for it to have a positive effect on your wellbeing. In fact, most people are quite skeptical about Reiki when they first see their practitioner. People are often only convinced of its efficacy when they see and feel noticeable results for themselves.
So what happens in a Reiki treatment?
A Reiki session typically involves the recipient either lying on a treatment table or sitting on a chair, whilst remaining fully clothed. Treatments normally last between 60 and 90 minutes during which time the Reiki practitioner will place their hands gently on the recipient’s body, or just above the body. The practitioner will typically change the positioning of their hands several times as the treatment progresses. All the recipient has to do is relax.
A Reiki treatment is a highly individual experience depending on what is going on for the recipient. People often report feeling deeply relaxed during Reiki treatments. Some report feeling heat, coolness or tingling where the practitioner has placed their hands. Others feel their body gently moving, as if it were naturally re-adjusting itself. Fireworks or not, there is no need to get too hung up on these sensations. Everyone is different and every treatment is different. The most important thing is to pay attention to how you feel after the Reiki treatment(s).
This might be something quite dramatic, like realising you are free from pain for the first time in years or feeling like a huge emotional weight has finally been lifted off your shoulders. Or it might be something quite simple like getting a great night’s sleep or an improvement in appetite. Such observations, however big or small, can be interpreted as outward effects of your body naturally restoring balance. Being observant to such changes will help you to measure the impact of Reiki on your personal wellbeing. For more serious or persistent issues (where a series of treatments is normally required), paying attention to such changes will hopefully motivate you to continue with the full course of treatment.
Where is it used, and what are the reported benefits?
Reiki is used in a wide range of situations: in the home; in the operating room; in palliative care; even in the US military. My experience of using Reiki is almost as far-reaching, from the emergency room of my local hospital to my local post office. That is the beauty of Reiki. It is always there for us, whenever and wherever we need it. I find that empowering. It pains me to see people feeling helpless in the face of suffering, whether that suffering is their own or that of others. I don’t feel this sense of helplessness so much anymore. We can always offer Reiki, even when there are no words of comfort to be spoken or nothing we can otherwise do to help in a practical way.
Although there has not yet been any large scale research into the benefits of Reiki, small but reputable studies have reported positive outcomes. For example, studies have suggested that Reiki treatment can reduce pain and anxiety for both cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. Another study using Reiki treatment for heart attack patients has shown an increase in heart rate variability following heart attack, an important indicator of healing and increased resilience.
Reiki - Your light within
Once you have experienced the benefits of Reiki through receiving treatments from others, you may feel the pull to learn Reiki yourself. As well as being a wonderful gift to offer others, Reiki as a practice can be a powerful tool for self care and personal transformation.
For me, self care is about addressing the needs of body, mind and soul through conscious living. Reiki could be seen as one possible tool within our self–care toolkit. But I also see Reiki as a kind of over-arching support, gently guiding us towards what our body might need at any one time to restore balance and to function optimally. In this way, Reiki opens us up to our own potential for natural healing. It brings us more in tune with ourselves.
Sometimes, however, we are faced with health challenges where finding a cure is not an option. In such cases, and in the absence of miracles, should we conclude that the healing power of Reiki has fallen short?
The answer lies in how we measure healing. We may not always have the freedom to choose a cure, but we always have the freedom to choose peace. Inner peace. That, for me, is the true measure of healing – a feeling of being completely at peace with ourselves, whatever our circumstances, and of knowing our true selves. And Reiki can take us there.
“How did the rose ever open its heart and give to this world all of its beauty? It felt the encouragement of light against its being.” - Hafiz